WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia extended, officials say

UPDATE 9:37 A.M. EDT MARCH 17, 2022: WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia on drug charges has been extended by at least two months, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

“The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the US citizen Griner until May 19,” the Russian court said, per the CNN report.

Her arrest has sparked a movement to free her on social media. Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for her release Wednesday.

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WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia last month after customs officials found vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport, authorities said.

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The Russian Federal Customs Service, while not identifying Griner by name, said in a statement that the player had won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S., according to The New York Times. The player, who was detained at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, was identified as Griner, according to the TASS. The Russian news agency cited a law enforcement source, who identified the detained athlete as Griner, an all-star center with the Phoenix Mercury.

Griner’s agent did not dispute the reports, according to The Associated Press.

“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA,” Lindsay Kagawa Colas said in a statement. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.”

Griner, 31, a seven-time All-Star in the WNBA, won gold medals with the U.S. women’s national basketball team in 2016 and 2021, the Times reported.

According to the statement by customs officials, a criminal case was opened “into the large-scale transportation of drugs.” If convicted, Griner could face up to 10 years in a Russian prison, the newspaper reported.

Griner was taken into custody while authorities continued their investigation, officials said.

In a statement, the Mercury said they were aware of Griner’s arrest.

“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the Mercury said. “We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”

According to a statement from the WNBA, Griner has the league’s “full support, and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” KNXV-TV reported.

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